The socio–economic effects of binge drinking on support networks in the North–West Province : a social perspective
Setlalentoa, Boitumelo Marilyn Patience
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Binge drinking as one of the alcohol consumption patterns, affects the quality of life of the drinker, significant others and the society in general. It contributes to negative social, economic and health effects on social support networks. This sub-study of the five year trans-disciplinary Alcohol study analysed the existing quantitative data of the Prospective Urban and Rural Epidemiology (PURE) study. The broad aim of the Alcohol study is to gain a better understanding of the alcohol consumption patterns and the causes and consequences of binge drinking amongst South African. The overarching aim of this sub-study was to identify the socioeconomic effects of binge drinking on support networks with a view to contributing to a development of a relevant, integrated and coherent strategy to address alcohol abuse and misuse in the selected areas of the study. The study adopted a mixed methods approach by combining the qualitative and quantitative paradigms to understand the phenomenon of binge drinking and its effects on support networks more adequately. A literature study was undertaken to firstly understand the broader context of the social aspects of alcohol abuse in South Africa, and secondly, to understand social support, social support networks and social network analysis in relation to binge drinking from a conceptual and theoretical framework. Unpacking of the concepts social support, social support networks and social network analysis provided a base to argue that social support networks are affected by binge drinking because the drinker and networks such as family and service providers are interrelated and interdependent. Relevant theoretical frameworks that support this view that person and environment are related and cannot be separated because one affects the other as well, were used to substantiate the argument. Binge drinking was further cross tabulated with other relevant variables to further understand the alcohol consumption patterns. The profile of social problems from the PURE data provided a picture of the challenges in the demarcated areas. As such poverty, low educational level and income were used as markers of socio-economic position. Having identified binge drinking as one pattern of alcohol consumption used in the communities, the study further identified the socio-economic effects experienced by support networks through semi-structured interviews with a schedule and focus groups. The family members and service providers as key informants were identified as support networks. The identified family support network representatives were children, spouse, parents and a sibling and they explained their experiences with a binge drinker. Specific themes of social support were used to describe their experiences of support. These themes are: types of support provided; recipient perception, reciprocal support and behaviour of the provider. The results indicated that support networks are negatively affected by binge drinking because social support is not provided as expected. Performance of roles is compromised and binge drinkers socially constructed views of being justified to abuse of alcohol in that they themselves were exposed to the same situation as children, thus the children are expected to accept their drinking and the socio-economic situation. The community support networks were interviewed to obtain information on the alcohol abuse and socio-economic conditions in the selected communities and to identify the intervention strategies employed to combat the alcohol abuse problems. Suggestions to enhance intervention strategies are proposed focusing on assessment of risk and risk environment, targeted interventions, multi-level synergistic intervention and multi-disciplinary roles and partnerships.
- Humanities